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Three Steps to Making Your Website More User Friendly

by Ryan Morgan  |  
May 7, 2012
  |  16,523 views

In this article, you'll learn...

  • Three steps to checking the usability of your website
  • Tips for improving the user experience on your website
  • The importance of website content, layout, and testing

How long do users stay on websites? According to usability expert Jakob Nielsen, "not very long." In an age of information overflow, user experience can be the key factor that determines whether visitors get the information they need from your website.

User experience is becoming an extension of the customer experience model—and, undoubtedly, experience matters. Companies that will stay ahead of the curve are those that are constantly refining their content, adapting to an always-changing technology landscape, and asking their customers what they want and how they want it delivered.

So, how does the user experience on your website measure up? Here is a three-step approach to analyzing the usability of your website, along with key guidelines for improving its usability.

1. Analyze the content

Odds are you wrote much of the content for your website. Well, maybe not you, but your marketing team or your company's management team. The point is that you are very familiar with your content. But are your users?


Consider the following when writing or analyzing content for your website:

  • Does your content pass the "common knowledge" test? You may be familiar with your processes and product or service offerings, but visitors to your site may not be. Use language that a broad audience can understand, and avoid acronyms or terms that are confusing.
  • Don't be long-winded. Your nine-paragraph description of your top-selling product probably sounded great when you first wrote it. You included all of the intricacies and specifications—anything anyone would ever want to know! But do you think your clients have time to read nine paragraphs? Probably not. Keep content concise, and break up text with illustrations or photographs when possible.
  • Not all at once. People can't handle information in large chunks. That's why we add hyphens to phone numbers, and why text messaging is so popular. Try implementing a "progressive disclosure" system of displaying information on your site. Show small chunks of information first—enough for the user to get a good understanding of what you're saying. Then, give her the ability to drill down and obtain more detailed information.

2. Look at the layout

One of the biggest hurdles for Web designers is the ever-changing landscape of devices that can access the Web. During your last website redesign, your website probably looked great in the browser you viewed it in. But what does your site look like on an iPhone or an iPad? How does it look on a projector in a conference room?


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Ryan Morgan is an online marketing coordinator for ERC, an HR services company. He also serves on the board of the Cleveland Web Association.

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  • by ChasL Mon May 7, 2012 via web

    Ryan,

    Very nice post. Google Analytics and testing are definitely key. They're where the rubber meets the road. You can feel like you've hit the mark with the content and layout, but the proof is definitely in the analytic pudding. Where folks are going, how long they're staying, what they're doing, etc.

  • by Kabang Mon May 7, 2012 via mobile

    Geepers, that is NOT why phone numbers have hyphens. You really sounded like you knew what you were talking about, until you made up some silliness like that! It's a wonder we ever got the hang of the alphabet... Though I'm not convinced the kids these days actually do. Maybe it needs hyphenation.

  • by Biztag Mon May 7, 2012 via mobile

    Good points outlined in your post. Mobile is important for growth and success of any business today. Biztag offers turnkey mobile solution for all businesses, and it's FREE, enjoy!

  • by Wendy A. Mon May 7, 2012 via mobile

    This information was very helpful. Thank you!

  • by David S. Wed May 9, 2012 via web

    I appreciate the insight into responsive design - I was unaware that there was a term; so, thank you. I know we live in a world where we want to put a number on everything but I would caution the amount of time a user spends on the site. A good user experience could mean that they found the information that they were looking for and got off. Last, for those who are looking to build a new site, there is a book titled "Don't Make Me Think" (I believe the author is Krug), which is a little old but the concepts are sound.

  • by Roger Wed May 9, 2012 via web

    Great article...I am new with much of this but the tips are excellent. Thanks

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